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Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011


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Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

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home

adelaide nalley,Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

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While its sad to say, Allie and Leah left early this morning for their flights home. Luckily i have a few more days with Kate until she takes off back to Xela. Thank you ladies for a fabulous adventure!

Posted On

05/12/11

Author

adelaide nalley

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Here is our itinerary for expedition!

April 21 to 28: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

We're going to spend the end of semana santa here, go to an indigenous pueblo called San Juan Chamula for Holy Sunday, visit the massacre site of Acteal and the Zapatista community of Oventic, ride down the beautiful Cañon Sumidero, visit the Traditional medicine and traje museums of San Cristobal, and meet with a professor from the CIDECI, the center for indigenous education.

April 28 to 29 we will be taking an overnight bus to the Yucatan and head to Tulum to visit the beautiful mayan ruins until May 1st.

May 2 to 6 we'll head to Belize to a small jungle village called Sartaneja and explore the mangroves, maybe see some ruins, enjoy the jungle and ocean, and stay in a permaculture farm.

May 6 and 7 we'll spend in a small garifuna fishing village called Hopkins, exploring the culture, take a garifuna drumming class, and taste the traditional flavors.

May 8 and 9 we will head back to Antigua either through the Rio Dulce or through Lake Flores in GUatemala, depending on our budget, and we'll end our trip at Earth Lodge near Antigua May 10 and 11, and May 12 Allie and I head home!

Time really flies doesn't it...

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Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

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Expedition Itinerary

Leah Varjacques,Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Here is our itinerary for expedition! April 21 to 28: San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico We’re going to spend the end of semana santa here, go to an indigenous pueblo called San Juan Chamula for Holy Sunday, visit the massacre site of Acteal and the Zapatista community of Oventic, ride down the beautiful […]

Posted On

04/20/11

Author

Leah Varjacques

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Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

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Photographic highlights of the semester’s first half

Adelaide Nalley,Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

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Posted On

04/10/11

Author

Adelaide Nalley

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People in the city are very different from the campesinos I spent most of my time with in Guatemala, and thea priorithat comes with meeting people from the city is that they are on the wealthier side of things and that our lives are not actually that different. Being in Xela sometimes also makes me forget I'm in Guatemala because of all the amenities and foodstuffs that are the same at home. But everytime I talk to people and hear where they're from and what they've lived through, I get a reality check. Leslie, a social work intern I work with at the OMM, and I had a long conversation during the workshop because we weren't really doing anything, and she kind of told me her life story. Her mom left her father when she was 9 and her brother was 4. She went to live with another man as a result of marital tensions and infidelities. Only until Leslie was 16 did her mom decide to get back into her children's lives. When Leslie was 13 she went to the capital with her class and was supposed to see her mom for the first time in awhile because her mom worked in amaquiladorathere, but she never showed up. It was really hard for her to deal with not having a mom, especially at that age when she really needed one. Leslie tried to kill herself when she was 10 by taking meds and was anorexic when she was 13, and suffered from depression all through her teens. When she was 16 and her mom reached out to her, she completely rejected her because she thought her mom ruined her life, but when she was 18, she decided to be the bigger person and give her mom a second chance, and now has a close relationship with her. Her brother still hates their mom though, and doesn't think he'll ever want to see her.Leslie is one of the smiliest outgoing people I've met here, and I never would've guessed that she's lived through all that. She's also a little bitfresa, or coquette, so I never would've guessed either that she's evangelical. She talks about how there are two paths in life, the one of god and the one of the world. She used to be in the path of the world and go out dancing and drinking and listen to music. But now she chose to follow the path of God so she can't do those things anymore, and doesn't really want to, although she does miss dancing and non religious music. She goes to church three times a week for mass and bible groups, and one of her only criteria for finding a boyfriend is that he be evangelical. I guess that ensures lower probabilities of him having addiction or infidelity problems, both common amongst guatemalan males.

I've also gotten much closer with my host family and we talk a bunch, especially after meals, about everything and anything. Elvia, my host mom, has told me her life story too, and how she grew up. Elvia was kind of the Cinderella of her family. She was sent to live with her aunt to a far away school for being a boisterous little girl but was pulled out of school when she finished 6th grade to work. She didn't grow up with her parents so has barely any emotional connection to them, and when was sent back home, had to work to help pay for her sisters' education. Her mom taught her the very strict machista lifestyle: cook and clean, give food to your husband in bed, don't let men in the kitchen, don't stay out in the street because your place is the kitchen and the bedroom, don't talk, if your husband is cheating on you, just deal, pretend you don't know and everything is fine; suffer in silence, do what you're told, and live to serve your man. Elvia met Hugo though, and he completely changed her. He was also taught the machista ways by his father, but he chose not to build his family that way - I think the guerrilla helped him with that too. He taught Elvia that they were equals, pushed for her to continue studying, shared in home chores, and wanted her to codirect the spanish school with him. This took time for adaptation, and Elvia is the first in her family to live so progressively. Her sisters and aunts and mother disapprove of Hugo because he is from the coast, a campesino and less ladino, and probably envy their lifestyle, jealous of Elvia's happiness and lack of traditional womanly suffering. Unfortunately though, Elvia doesn't have a good relationship with her family. When she was really sick, no one came to help her, not even her mom, and they always talk. If there's one thing I learned from Guatemala it's that family is the most important thing and loving family relationships are the most solid bonds there are and thatI'm extremely grateful and lucky for all the love and support I share with mine.That's what Elvia is fostering in the family she has with Hugo, David and Maria, but she relies only on them for support, and that's alastima.

We also have long conversations about politics, governments, corruption and drug trafficking here, etc. My host dad Hugo has a pretty pessimistic world view, though he claims he's being realist. He's lived through quite a lot and has written a book. He was in the guerrilla in the 80s and after the war wanted to stay involved in the revolutionary party, the URNG, to shape political life of Guatemala. However, he said the URNG and his guerrilla membercompaneroschanged and political life has corrupted them. He was offered to be minister several times apparently, but turned it down because of the rampant corruption and narcos complete manipulation of politics and government. He barely goes outside of his house anymore because of threats he's received while trying to fight for less corruption in Xela municipality - he created a plan for increased tourist security and against corruption and handed it to the director of human rights in the municipality; two weeks later, that guy was arrested for drug trafficking and corruption charges.
He asked me if I thought there was love in the world, and I believe there is, but he immediately shot my opinion down to say that there isn't, and that if there was there wouldn't be war or exploitation or corruption. If people truly loved each other, then we wouldn't constantly be screwing over others for our own personal gains. However, there is some love left, and that's the only way our species is surviving. He also maintains that all governments are corrupt, but the most corrupt and hypocrite one is the US government. I disagree with him, I don't think Obama's administration is bought by narcos, but he thinks it is, and that that's why there is so much drug trade and nothing is really being done about it. He thinks that's why the US government hasn't legalized marijuana - because the cartels are paying the government good money and if it's legal it won't be as profitable. What Hugo is saying is just not true and illogical, but he isn't used to having someone argue with him in his family and point out his errors, so dialogue is slowly coming on rather than black-white preachiness. He calls the US the ultimate evil and ultimate violator andhas quite a bit of anger toward the US, not without reason, but is completely focused on the negative and on the US's actions in the past rather than living in the present. As his son Hugo David pointed out to me yesterday, yes the US does terrible things and makes mistakes, but it's not all bad, and it's important to view the positive. We're here now, so let's remember the past but not let it hinder us to move forward. It's up to us, the future generation, to shape tomorrow's world, and nothing will improve if we stagnate in pessimism. Out of negativity can only come more negativity, but optimism and positivity opens all the doors to progress and betterment. For a sixteen year old, Hugo David is extremely wise, and he's probably one of the most cultu red kids in Xela. Talking to him is always very interesting because of his extensive knowledge and passionate interest in literature, music, cinematography and the world. He's called weird by his reggaeton-girlhungry classmates, but I think they know like I do that it's people like Hugo David that inspire and enhance our humanity.
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Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

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People

Leah Varjacques,Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

Description

People in the city are very different from the campesinos I spent most of my time with in Guatemala, and thea priorithat comes with meeting people from the city is that they are on the wealthier side of things and that our lives are not actually that different. Being in Xela sometimes also makes me […]

Posted On

03/25/11

Author

Leah Varjacques

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I realized immediately that Armando had a clear vision in his head. When we sat down after the truck ride to Pachaj to talk about my time with his family, his community, and his work con la tierra, I understood why so many had spoken countless times about what an inspiration he was. He welcomed me to Pachaj and into his family, inviting me to feel as it were my own home, and telling me that he wants for me to be contento in our time together- he wants to teach what I want to know and if I have any problem, that he is an open person and wants to know, that his wife is there if I need anything as well. He began telling me about Chico Mendes, his 11 year old reforestation project explaining, ´´Solo tenemos dos reglas aqui en Chico Mendes- ser consciencia del medio ambiente, y trabajo con tu corazon.´´ Be conscious of the environment, and work with your heart.

As if that didnt light my fire already, he continued to tell a story of an avocado. An 80 year old man is eating an avocado and he takes out the seed to clean it and replant it. A younger man looks at him and is like ¨are you crazy? Avocado trees take so long to grow, you wont even be alive when it bears fruit.´´ And the old man said, ´´i am not crazy, youre crazy. the avocado that Im eating now was planted by my parents, and Im going to plant this for my children and grandchildren´´. Armando spoke of his belief and told this story with such passion, his eyes were glistening and looking intently into mine, and my eyes started to well up. The story symbolized such a clear observation about how we have to care for our mother, using foresight and consideration, and at the same time made me realize how often we dont do that. How often it is that if something doesnt affect us directly or in our lifetime, we dont take note. This light has gone off a couple of times in my short time here. Today Armando, Rafael, a sweet older Ki iche man who works with los arbolitos, and I were working with the arbolitos that were still in their bags before they would be planted on the mountain, and Armando and Rafael were speaking in Ki iche as they gazed happily at this little tree in the bag, its roots escaping from the bag searching for earth. Armando then explained that Rafael was saying that he wouldnt even be alive when that little tree was towering over the mountain, providing shade and oxygen for the world, but I would, and that alone put smiles on their faces.

So Im living with his family which includes his wife Claudia, his eldest daughter Claudia, his son Raul, and his lil niños Dulce Maria and Armando Jr. Oh, and the grandparents too, who have a little tienda-bedroom-church on sunday night room, attached to the house. My spanish has gotten so much better in just these 4 days if only because I'm the only person I can rely on for communication. Daughter Claudia and I have spanish class every morning and my afternoons vary from day to day. The first afternoon I spent with all of the maestras (un maestro) of the spanish school here, whose proceeds, when there are students, go the Chico Mendes. Thhey were having a late Valentine's day lil fiesta so we all exchanged gifts ( I received a teeny plastic plant with a butterfly on it!) and proceeded to play games. Some charade esque games, and one where you were paired up with someone and while music was played, they had to walk in circles around you. When the music stopped they had to jump on your back and whoever was last was out- like musical chairs with no chairs. So imagine all these lovely Mayan muchachas in their traditional dress, waiting with anticipation for silence, and jumping hard onto my back, whoever's back laughing uncontrollably. It was quite a sight. Tomorrow Armando and I will go meet with a mayan priest, which I'm really excited about. During spanish class, it's like half- reviewing and learning the pronouns and adjectives and names of things blah blah, which I really need to know, and the other two hours, Claudia and I just drink tea and talk about anything and everything- our beliefs, our families, our first boyfriends, the first time we drank alcohol (she was 9- she thought that wine was grape juice and kept goin for it until she fell down some stairs- whoops!), the 2012 prophecy and what it means to the Mayans, today we watched lots of guys from the community play futbol, and yesterday--wow, yesterday. It was a day for el medio ambiente.

We were talking about contamination and she wanted to take me down to the river that runs next to Pachaj on the road to Xela to show me how much pollution there was. When we got down there, I couldn't believe it. What is apparently one of the biggest rivers in Guatemala, and really clean about 50 years ago, El Samala is now unswimmable because of how polluted it is. I looked down from the bridge and saw unjustifiable amounts of bottles, glass, plastic, paper, cloth, chip bags- throw aways from people who don't want to deal with everything they consume, so they throw it down- down into this fluid "trash can" that sweeps it away so that they never see it. But this beautiful river is now almost black, the trees around it are dead, and Claudia tells me that all the parrots and squirrels that used to live there are gone. I mean, damn, you can't swim in it because the things we're throwing into it are so toxic that they're going to be dangerous to us if we touch it. What does that tell you about the products we're making/using/drinking/eating??!! I asked her if she thought that people don't know what the consequences are, or if they just don't care. "Creo que no les importan", she responded. They don't care. I felt knots it my stomach, an ache in my soul, and immediate tears coming on. It made me so sad to look at such a big, real, truth. Claudia told me, with her unshakeable faith, that she thinks God would be very sad looking at all of this because this is the earth he made, and it's being destroyed. Yo tambien, me dije.This earth is alive like you're alive and like I'm alive. It's a piece of art. Somewhere in our consumption and egoism, we forget that and instead believe only in our power to fix and rebuild everything. I gave my love and blessings to madre tierra right there, and made a promise to myself to start being even more conscious of what I use.

A few days later I was able to meet with Ronoldo, a mayan sacerdote who talked to me about each of the 20 days of the mayan calendar and what they signified, and how the mayans were in relationship to the powerful forces of the universe. Armando and I talked in more depth later about los creencias mayas-what is unique about their spirituality and their belief in the creator and their connection and devotion to the earth. When you're cold, you need the sun to warm you. When you're hot, you need the shade of the trees and the wind to cool you. When you're thirsty, you need water. When it's time to sleep, you have the night. When it's time to wake, the day comes. (Thankful for everyday and night: for example, if you have a ceremony on the 13th day of the mayan calendar, Aqabal, this day represents oscuridad y amanacer, or the darkness and the coming of the day. You give thanks and ask for, with the coming of the night, a new dawn. ) When you're hungry, you need food- an apple. How can an apple tree grow without the ground, the soil, la tierra? What would we walk on if there were no ground? During every mayan ceremony, they light a candle in gratitude for each of these incredible forces. It all works in such harmony, it's so natural. You can see it in the hearts of these people, the way they work with the land and interact with people. Armando said with ease,"You live these beliefs in every part of your life. Many people go to church every week as an obligation and then what? They continue in a rush to work and school and forget abou t what their truth is. If you live these beliefs, people will know. People will understand." Tonight a group of us are going to camp in the mountains and have a ceremony at night, something Armando says is supposed to be very special. I'm hoping I'll be there in lieu of my recent tummy troubles, all of which started last weekend in Xela...

I took the bus to Xela on Saturday for another night there with the girls to do some planning for our April/May trip, buy fruit (and chocolate), salsa, hang out, etc...I had my first salsa lesson which was amazing!! I'm going to take ten classes with this guy, Jose, whose an awesome instructor. I felt like I learned a lot just in our first lesson and was able to dance fluidly to a couple of songs by the end of our time. Though my spanish has definitely improved a lot, it's interesting having the language barrier there when learning something, especially because he talks pretty fast. You have to do a lot of watching and feeling to understand where your movement is going, which I think is a really interesting way of learning. So after my class I went to meet up with Allie and Leah at the Xela futbol team's 10th anniversary game which was against Mexico. After about 5 minutes at the game, I realized my hesitance to be there turned into a lack of any desire to be there at all. I'm totally down for watching a community come together and play futbol, or even being a part of it, even though I can't play! But the whole stadium thing is kind of suffocating to me. So I got outta there and waited outside for everyone until the game was over. We were all hungry by that point and decided on street food. Bad idea #1. I decided on 3 tacos for 10 Q (super cheap). Bad idea #2. The rest of the night was great, we saw a salsa band called sangre latino and went dancing at this place called La Rumba later. It wasn't until later in the night (about 5 days ago now) that the tummy troubles came and still haven't fully left. I came here thinking I had intestines of steel because I made it three months in Bolivia without any problems, while almost everyone I was with had the runs for much of the time. But WOAH, this is not fun. I've been too weak to do almost anything this week. Thankfully my host mama Claudia has an herbal tea cure-all, specifically though for stomach illness. I can't remember the name of the plant but it's like sipping slowly hot Noni juice. It's awful. It works, though, as long as you drink it a few times a day (yegh!) and is totally testament to the fact that the more bitter, the better. So keep drinkin dat plant juice!

Speaking of plants, after finishing The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (read it!), I'm almost halfway through The Lost Language of Plants. And man, it's got me awake in the middle of the night (along with my need to go to the bathroom) thinking about things. The author goes into detail and makes some amazing points about how we're currently treating our world- as a machine instead of an organism, how we've lost our connection to plants and their ability to heal and have instead turned only to western medicine. He talks about waste and it's place in our world- where it all ends up and how heavily it affects us- how chemicals like antibiotics are creating super resistant and extremely evolved bacteria that we can't fight anymore, and then ending up in our water sources and in our land, all at the peril of our ecosystems and future generations. I've read a lot and heard a lot in the past week or so, and my time in Latin America so far has continued to bring me to the same conclusion: that there's a place for me to do something really good for this big beautiful planet. There's just so much, I've got to figure out where my calling is. Hopefully, I'll find it. And then find it somewhere else. And continue to keep finding....

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Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

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yak yak yak…3/5

kate tynan,Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

Description

I realized immediately that Armando had a clear vision in his head. When we sat down after the truck ride to Pachaj to talk about my time with his family, his community, and his work con la tierra, I understood why so many had spoken countless times about what an inspiration he was. He welcomed […]

Posted On

03/12/11

Author

kate tynan

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    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2011-03-11 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Monday afternoon I went to Llanos de la Cruz with the newest intern of the Office, Elba. She's 17 and in a crafts school, so she'll be teaching workshops in the different communities on cooking and craftsmaking. At Llanos, she'll be teaching recycling projects. A very small group came and we played hot potato - a favorite here apparently - and to break the ice had to pop a ballon by hugging someone. I was paired with a very tiny mayan lady, and our odd coupling brought many laughs. They decided they were going to start growing mushrooms out of recycled corn leaves. So I'll be going there every Monday and learn about the Guatemalan way of recycled craft projects.

Tuesday was the International Day of Women, and the office along with the Worker's Union of Xela organized a parade from one park to the central park. Elba and I got there at 8am, when the parade was supposed to start. People trickled in and finally we were able to start the march at 9:30, also known as 8am Guatemalan time (are you starting to notice a recurring pattern here?). Not many women showed up, and when the leader shouted "Que viva el dia de la mujer!", the "Que viva!" awaited response from the crowd was very weak. I learned the next day that last year, almost the entire Llanos community came because the OMM was providing snacks. This year, OMM didn't have funding for snacks, so only a fraction showed up. I don't know how the women from the office feel about that, they kind of shrugged it off, but to me that's kind of a downer. I know free food anywhere in the world is always a very efficient motivational strategy, but still. Do the women actually care about women's day and are they actually learning and benefitting from OMM's work? Is OMM's work efficient? I still haven't really been able to grasp all that OMM does, mostly because I'm coming in in media res and their work is spread out over the year, and has been over 5 years. I haven't really been able to render myself useful yet, but on Tuesday and Wednesday I was the designated photographer, which I hope will continue to be my job in the next few weeks.

The march was in advocacy of equality in the workplace and the respect of women’s rights. Posters read “I survive every day to a world of discrimination”, “I am an employee, not a slave”, “I am a woman, not a sexual object”, “women making breaking through in typically-male jobs”, “my pregnancy doesn’t limit my capacities” etc. The march led up to the municipality, and the governor of Xela and the human rights director of the municipality spoke, acknowledging the need for women in Guatemala to continue fighting for equality, women’s development and against discrimination, and saluting women’s value, role and significance in society.

Here's something I wrote for Entremundos about the status of women in Guatemala:


According to several studies, the elevation of women’s rights helps democratize a society, and the development of the status of women helps a country tremendously economically. Although the Guatemalan government has made efforts to better the situation of women in the country, such as financing a public women’s organization in every municipality, and passing a law last March to combat sexual violence, exploitation, and people trafficking, 5500 women have been killed since 2000, making Guatemala one the most dangerous places to be a woman in the western hemisphere. According to government documents, 717 women were killed during 2009, an increase from the previous year, most of those raped and about one third victims of domestic violence. Women suffer high levels of poverty and social exclusion - while the development index for the country in 0.56, the development for women of rural areas is 0.17 according to Mujeres en Red – and face huge disadvantages in the labor market.

Brutal violence against women, impunity in those crimes, and deep injustices and inequalities in women's human and labor rights is fostering an environment of terror and intimidation for women in Guatemalan society. This may lead women to retreat from participating in public life and limit themselves to the private sphere, abandoning their indispensable role in national development and annulling the progress that's been made. Already, women's civic participation is extremely low, there are only 7 female members of Congress, and only very recently and very slowly women have started to take up leadership positions and posts traditionally performed by men (there has been a significant increase in the number of women mayors this year).

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Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

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Women

Leah Varjacques,Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Monday afternoon I went to Llanos de la Cruz with the newest intern of the Office, Elba. She’s 17 and in a crafts school, so she’ll be teaching workshops in the different communities on cooking and craftsmaking. At Llanos, she’ll be teaching recycling projects. A very small group came and we played hot potato – […]

Posted On

03/11/11

Author

Leah Varjacques

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    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2011-03-02 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => I've done many things and experienced a lot in Guatemala, but yesterday it occurred to me that I'd never witnessed one of life's milestones in a culture other than mine.
Monday, while I was internally complaining about the uncertainties of the status of my article-writing and entitling myself to chocolate, a woman from Llanos de la Cruz was killed, hit by the bus she was hailing down. I learned of this tragic event Tuesday morning when I went to work at the Oficina, and I went with Eunice and 2 other ladies to pay a visit to the family and give our condolences (sit shiva, in a sense).
The dark mahogany-colored casket was in the main room of the house surrounded with large white candles and flower wreaths. People were grieving beside the casket of Dona Rosa, a 58 year old indigenous lady who left behind 5 children (ages going from 8 to 20), a husband that was just operated on his head, siblings, and parents. That room gave onto the internal patio, where dozens of women from the community were bustling about wrapping tamales, slicing beef, chopping carrots, and stirring beans. Asarabanda, a group of older men playing brass and percussion instruments, was playing funeral marches extremely loudly to accompany the family in their sorrow and the soul in its ascent to God. Eunice went over to comfort the older daughter who was heaving and weeping, her hands full of corn masa from the tamales. Needless to say, the atmosphere was heavy and glum, loudly transgressed by the sarabanda. Mariachis or such a band is customary during funeral preparations here, and it felt out of place to me because my culture doesn't associate the 'major' key with a mournful ambiance. All the women gather to prepare a gigantic traditional lunch of beef soup and tamales for the entire community, to thank everyone for participating and supporting the family; it's the families' utmost preoccupation to make sure their guests are well-fed and satisfied to thank them properly. It's quite costly and everything is made in huge cooking pots. Mass in the community was at 3pm and the procession to the Xela cemetery was at 4. I went to the cemetery in the afternoon. All the women were dressed in their besttrajeand men in their best suit to honor the dead. The cemetery is somewhat of a tourist visitation site because of how incredibly different it is from Western cultures. Nearer the entrance are large mausoleums with lots of embellishments, colors, and family names, and as the cemetery stretches onward, the graves start getting smaller and shorter and simpler. Rosa was being buried almost at the way end of the cemetery, where some graves had no stone, just a simple painted cross above an elevated mound of dirt. I also saw a couple of graves where the dead was 19 or 10 years old, something I'd never really seen in the rare occasions I've been to cemeteries. The family was wailing softly while the priest led the congregation into prayer and the casket was prepared to be lowered, a daughter was screaming "No quiero dejarte aqui". After twenty minutes or so Eunice and I walked away amongst the rising broken voices singing a psalm to lift the soul to God. It was a bright but cloudy day, the completely uncovered volcan Santa Maria majestic in the distance like an omen of hope.
[post_title] => marcha funebre [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => marcha-funebre [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2011-03-02 00:00:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://yakyak.chandigarhsoftware.com/?p=45310 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [categories] => Array ( [0] => WP_Term Object ( [term_id] => 355 [name] => Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011 [slug] => guatemala-expeditionary-internship-semester-spring-2011 [term_group] => 0 [term_taxonomy_id] => 355 [taxonomy] => category [description] => [parent] => 256 [count] => 17 [filter] => raw [term_order] => 19.1 [cat_ID] => 355 [category_count] => 17 [category_description] => [cat_name] => Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011 [category_nicename] => guatemala-expeditionary-internship-semester-spring-2011 [category_parent] => 256 [link] => https://my.wheretherebedragons.com/category/spring-2011/guatemala-expeditionary-internship-semester-spring-2011/ ) ) [category_links] => Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011 )

Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

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marcha funebre

Leah Varjacques,Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

Description

I’ve done many things and experienced a lot in Guatemala, but yesterday it occurred to me that I’d never witnessed one of life’s milestones in a culture other than mine.Monday, while I was internally complaining about the uncertainties of the status of my article-writing and entitling myself to chocolate, a woman from Llanos de la […]

Posted On

03/2/11

Author

Leah Varjacques

WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 45340
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2011-02-26 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

Yesterday afternoon I said ¨buenos tardes¨ to my family and sat down to lunch. To my surprise and glee, my host father Hans, served me a plate of rice and beans in the shape of a smiley face.

Every morning my host mother, Jaqueline, or Hans brightens my mornings with a ¨buenos dias¨ before breakfast, and we always have interesting conversations during lunch and dinner. They always go out of their way to make me feel comfortable, offering their help and support should I need it.

On Wednesday I turned 19, and at dinner my family surprised me with a cake they had made in my honor. I was thrilled. It was a delicious strawberry cake, and although I was celebrating far from home I certainly felt loved and cared for by my new surrogate family.

They are some of the kindest, most welcoming people I have met in my time travelling, and I´m looking forward to spending two more months in their company.

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Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

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Smiley Faces

Alexandra Rawson,Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

Description

Yesterday afternoon I said ¨buenos tardes¨ to my family and sat down to lunch. To my surprise and glee, my host father Hans, served me a plate of rice and beans in the shape of a smiley face. Every morning my host mother, Jaqueline, or Hans brightens my mornings with a ¨buenos dias¨ before breakfast, […]

Posted On

02/26/11

Author

Alexandra Rawson

WP_Post Object
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    [ID] => 45343
    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2011-02-25 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => I had visited a finca with a my first Dragons trip in Guatemala, Finca Ixobel, but this finca was an entirely different world.
We got to the Casa Grande, the old farm house, which is the hospedaje, the inn, and met Rosaura, our host, and the Esteban's wife. The house has many dilapidated rooms. It smells like camp, that old wood renfermé scent that sparks your excitement and never fails to make me smile. Random huge doors lead into former kitchens or cafeterias that are now filled with wood for building and other types of storage. Wooden planks make up floor, ceilings, and stairs, and are creaky and rickety, half eaten or hanging loose. Bats have settled in one of the upstairs rooms. We slept on the upper level, our rooms giving onto a deck with a cute balustrade and a gorgeous view, overlooking the tree tops far into the horizon. The house reminded me of an old southern plantation house, with thin wood columns supporting it, white and green peeling paint, and straw mattresses completing the feel. We were the only visitors there.
What I liked most about our stay was that we got to eat our meals with different families from the community. For our first day, we had lunch and dinner at Dona Dominga's. She told us some of her story while cooking. She is originally from Huehuetenango and was orphaned at age 15, along with her 3 younger siblings, the youngest one was 2 years old. Her parents died 1 year apart, in 1990, in the heat of the war. Although she didn't say, the closeness of her parents' deaths, the date at which they died, and the fact that she's from Huehue makes me think that they died fighting or helping the guerrilla, but one can only guess. She and her siblings went to work on a farm near Colomba where they had relatives, and Dominga and her sister got married. Her sister now lives in the capital and seems to be relatively successful, the older brother now lives in the country probably in a farm somewhere or even in La Florida, and the youngest brother they haven't heard from in years, since he was 15. They don't know if he's alive or dead and the last they heard from him was that he wanted to move to Honduras because he wanted to get away from Guatemala, where he felt he had no connection because he has no parents. She pointed out that 5 years ago, phones didn't exist here so they couldn't keep in touch. In La Florida they barely have electricity too - they get more or less depending on how much it rained that day, but light bulbs are very weak and most people use candles. We cooked with her at dinner and had the best tipico ever. We spoke to 2 of her 6 daughters too: one is 15 and the other 19 but they are in the same grade (8th). They work in the fields and in their own beehive and go to school every monday, a 45 minute walk one way. The community just built an elementary school and their vision is to build a secondary school too, because many kids end up working instead of going to school because of the impracticality of the location. They thanked us profusely for being there, saying it meant alot to them to share with people from outside and to have visitors.
During the day, we met with Anastasio Diaz, the man in charge of the apiario, the beehive project. He brought us there, explained bee activity and showed us the bees in action, and showed us the honey making process, from bee to bottle. He also explained to us how the finca works. A junta directiva, or board of directors, appoints commissions of people to direct different divisions of the community (like health, education, women, etc) and give people trainings and workshops to do certain jobs, from working in the coffee fields to the beehive to being health promoters. People don't choose their job but if they don't like it they can ask to change. Everyone gets paid 30 quetzales per day, men and women alike as gender equality is a priority value at La Florida. The 40 or so poor landless families joined together to occupy and claim La Florida because it was state owned and on sale after its mismanagement by its owners led it to be withheld by Bancafe, the national bank. Before, these families worked in different fincas around Colomba and Quetzaltenango, had no land of their own, and earned 10 quetzales a day, or a 1.2 dollars more or less. Today they earn a little less than 4 dollars a day and they still live in dire condition - they barely have any electricity and their shelters are made of rusty tin sheets and wood - but as they say, at least they have land. Whenever the finca sells their product in Xela, the money goes to the community fund in their office and the profit goes to financing and maintaining their projects. The eco tourism project is pretty recent and has brought alot of benefits to the farm and the families, providing them with volunteers and money, and to the women, who value themselves more now and have gained in confidence.
Anastasio was such a sweet little old man who was so proud to show us his work and enthusiastic about our interest. When we got back to the casa grande, a man was working with bamboo on the porch. He was making wind chimes and showed us the tables and chairs he had made. He learne from a worshop given by an NGO and now he teaches others. He showed us that if you burn bamboo, the green color turns into a beige brown, draining the water and making it a lot stronger.
On Friday morning we had breakfast at Emiliana's and took a long walk with her to the coffee plants, the macadamia and banana trees, while she showed us medicinal plants along the way. Everything smelled so amazing, the contrast between the air in Xela and the finca was astounding. Emiliana was carrying her 6 month old baby on her back the whole time. We had lunch and dinner at Mariatelga's, she's a madre soltera, or single mom, of 6 kids, and is a health promoter within the community. It was such a unique opportunity to spend time with these people, they were so sweet, open, talkative, and genuinely happy to share their lives with us, an attitude toward foreigners that is generally not so easy to find in campesino Guatemala. It was really nice to visit this farm before settling into the urban life, and I'm always wowed by how much I learn from Guatemala every time I am here
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Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

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Finca La Florida

Leah Varjacques,Guatemala Expeditionary Internship Semester, Spring 2011

Description

I had visited a finca with a my first Dragons trip in Guatemala, Finca Ixobel, but this finca was an entirely different world.We got to the Casa Grande, the old farm house, which is the hospedaje, the inn, and met Rosaura, our host, and the Esteban’s wife. The house has many dilapidated rooms. It smells […]

Posted On

02/25/11

Author

Leah Varjacques

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